Influence of Enrichment on the Behavior of New Zealand White Rabbits and Cynomolgus Macaques in a Research Setting During Their Quarantine Period
Enrichment is an excellent tool used to refine animal husbandry practices in laboratory animal medicine. When animals first arrive at a facility, the animals are given a quarantine period to ensure they are healthy, and to allow the animals to acclimate to the facility. By offering environmental enrichment and food enrichment at different frequencies, we can observe how different levels of enrichment influences the behavior of the animals. In this experiment, New Zealand white rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and cynomolgus macaques (Macaca fascicularis) were observed to see how various types of enrichment promote animal welfare and behavior and this is illustrated by the presence of positive behaviors being observed and the absence of negative behaviors. For each species, an ethogram was created to measure the behaviors of the animals, and noninvasive observations were taken daily while the animals were undergoing their quarantine period. We also monitored fecal output to observe the animals’ physiological health. Enrichment was given to the animals in three different treatment groups. Group 1 received the base enrichment, one form of environmental enrichment, changed weekly, and received food enrichment once weekly. Group 2 received two forms of environmental enrichment, the same device as Group 1, in addition to another device. Group 3 received both types as enrichment as Group 2, as well as a daily food enrichment. For each species, we predicted that Group 3 animals, will show more positive, friendly behaviors and less negative, stereotypic behaviors. The data suggests that there was statistical significance between the different variables for the rabbits. The data suggests that there was statistical significance between most of the variables for the macaques, with the exception of fecal output and displaying stereotypic behaviors, which were not significant. We concluded that both environmental and food enrichment had a positive influence on the behavior of the animals during their quarantine period, as seen by the observations of their behavior.
Jennifer Punt, VMD, PhD
Kelly Garcia, DVM, PhD